Math Can Be Fun: A Parent’s Guide to Engaging Kids in Math by Michele Williams, Ph.D.

Math Can Be Fun: A Parent’s Guide to Engaging Kids in Math by Michele Williams, Ph.D.

Math should not be drudgery! And the person to convince parents that math can be FUN and then convince the parents that they can directly influence their child’s perception about math is Michele Williams. Math Can Be Fun: A Parent’s Guide to Engaging Kids in Math by Michele Williams, Ph.D. can be read in a couple of hours but could make a world of difference to your young child’s success in math now and throughout his studies. And, yes, because you broke the cycle of “math is hard and I hate it” your grandchildren will grow up with parents who will motivate them to enjoy math too.

Michele Williams says with her book she wants to give parents the tools they need to help kids get their first inkling that math really can be fun. When your child grasps that, her grades will improve and so will her confidence, and after-school homework will no longer be a battle. Written by a career engineer and long-time math tutor, Math Can Be Fun will change the way you and your children see math.

Ms. Williams told Special Needs Book Review that her book  was inspired by her tutoring students, one of whom is autistic and another of whom has ADHD. Ms. Williams explains she has had a lot of success with her approach to teaching math with her autistic student, whom she calls “Tom” in the book. While the book does not overtly focus on special needs children, nearly all of the approaches she offers work well for her two students with special needs.

From Fixed Mindset to Growth Mindset

Many researchers and educators recognize that  people’s belief that math ability can’t change becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This fixed mindset has to be replaced with the growth mindset that interprets challenges and obstacles as opportunities to grow. With this mindset, every experience is a learning experience.

The parents’ success in influencing their child’s math outcomes is linked directly on how they transmit their enthusiasm, engagement, and Math Can Be Fun: A Parent's Guide to Engaging Kids in Math by Michele Williams, Ph.D.encouragement.  If you found/find math difficult, Math Can Be Fun: A Parent’s Guide to Engaging Kids in Math is the resource you need and together you and your child will discover math is everywhere, math is woven in all our everyday activities, math is not only that 30 minutes of sitting down with a tutor once or twice a week because the parents have given-up on helping their child with math.

Every chapter comes with helpful examples and practical steps you can implement immediately. The book is not about how to do math problems at certain grade levels but rather how to foster a better attitude towards math by showing how math concepts surround us and how to incorporate math in our daily activities. 

I found the section in her book about the link between reading and math very interesting and it is a great message to parents to make sure they read to their child early in life and every day.

Excerpts from Math Can Be Fun: A Parent’s Guide to Engaging Kids in Math 

Chapter 4 Pick a Book, Any Book
“Vocabulary, number and symbol senses, as well as the ability to read and comprehend word problems are important factors affecting achievement in math.” They also stated that “symbol processing is the basis for both language proficiency and math achievement.”

This idea may seem strange at first. But as you read this sentence you are interpreting symbols to get to the meaning behind them. You’d have to do the same kind of symbol interpretation to understand any word problem in a math class…

Encourage them to read anything and everything that is within your comfort zone as a parent. If you have to, start with comic books. Once your kids realize that they can enjoy reading, their preferences will expand, opening up a whole new world and improving their facility with math.

Chapter 10 Points For Neatness

…Nearly every problem that he missed involved long division, and this kid is an absolute whiz at division. The issue was that his handwriting was so messy and crowded that he misread some of the numbers that he had written as he progressed through the problems. Otherwise, he would have missed only one problem and his grade would have been close to 100. What a shame that his handwriting prevented him from getting the grade he deserved…

Neat handwriting is a must for solving of math problems because we are not yet able to do math easily on tablets with keyboards.  By doing neat work, math homework and tests can be made faster with fewer errors, and get  more partial credit  than a classmate with the same math ability but poor handwriting. Good, or at least reasonably good, handwriting means higher math scores.

To be effective, the author says math sessions must use a “multi-sensory approach”.  You will be impressed with the numerous strategies Ms. Williams describes with links to web sites, apps, and books.

Most of the tips on making math fun and meaningful use very few store bought materials except a white board, markers, paper, measuring tools, on-line math games, etc.  Your time and imagination is all that is required to follow through on all the wealth of suggestions in this book.

Create a math journal  to write something about using math every day.The following are tips that I know would have worked with my own children:

  • Illustrate the problem or concept.
  • Find out what career interests the child has and show math skills related to that field.
  • Create a math journal  to write something about using math every day.
  • Find math in nature…shapes, symmetry, measurements.
  • Do math while travelling.  Keep a record of the number of cars and trucks of each color that they see during a set time period. Then draw bar graphs or pie charts showing the number of total vehicles of each color…

We recommend Math Can Be Fun: A Parent’s Guide to Engaging Kids in Math by Michele Williams, Ph.D. as a parenting resource to help your child find opportunities to learn math wherever you go. You will learn easy-to-implement activities to make their math learning experience pertinent to them and how to make learning math more dynamic by using even songs and dance moves!

You will be relieved to know how small, practical lifestyle changes for your child like getting adequate, quality sleep will boost their math performance.

As an added bonus parents will appreciate the Appendix that lists the complete web addresses for all of the sites that are mentioned in the chapters (web sites are underlined). Also the book has directions to a downloadable file containing the links.

Michele Williams, Ph.D. author of Math Can Be Fun: A Parent's Guide to Engaging Kids in MathAbout the Author

Michele Williams, Ph.D. is the owner of MATHTUTORPHD, an on-line tutoring and mentoring service. She became an engineer because she wanted to apply math to real-world problems. Along the way she tutored many young people in math, taught math at the community college level, and mentored young women who were fresh out of engineering school. It took many years for her to realize that her true calling was tutoring and mentoring, not engineering.

Michele lives in Burnsville, North Carolina with her husband, Mike. She loves inspiring young minds and helping parents to help their kids excel in math.

Follow Michele Williams:

READ Also: Interview Michele Williams PhD, Author of Math Can Be Fun: A Parent’s Guide to Engaging Kids in Math

Math Can Be Fun (Book Trailer)

Buy Math Can Be Fun: A Parent’s Guide to Engaging Kids in Math by Michele Williams, Ph.D 

This post was written by Lorna
Lorna d’Entremont: Co-owner of SentioLife Solutions, Ltd. the company behind KidCompanions Chewelry (2007) and SentioCHEWS (2013), mother of three, grandma of 5 and wife. She is a retired teacher and special needs advocate. Throughout she has taught all levels from grade 2 to grade 9. Lorna loved teaching and enjoyed seeing the students progress in the school system. During her 30 year career she took a few years off to raise her three children.